Hoffman, chair of the Young Adult Division of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and associate vice president – investments for the Alcaraz Mercadante West Investment Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, was a contestant recently on the TV show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
At a breakfast hosted by Hoffman’s friend, Art Sandler, a group of more than 50 people gathered at the Sandler Family Campus on Oct. 31 to watch the broadcast of Hoffman answering questions ranging from who invented Spanx to which celebrity died on Halloween. Correct answers on the program, which airs locally on Fox 43 weekdays at 10 am, could be worth a million dollar prize.
“This has been two years of work, essentially on my wife, Denise’s, part,” says Hoffman. “After a friend said to her that they thought I’d be good on the show because I have so much information in my head, she constantly checked the Millionaire website for audition dates until we found out when they were coming to the area, and then she made sure I went.”
The audition consisted of a 30-minute, 40-question test. Hoffman took it, then left the next day for a summer UJFT Men’s Division trip to Israel. When he returned home, he received a postcard congratulating him for making it into the contestants’ pool, where his name would remain for two years.
About a month later, Hoffman received a call asking him if he was available for a taping on Sept. 25, and also asking if he would be willing to compete in a costume.
“I was told we might be taping for the Halloween show, so I told Liz, the producer, I could be a clown, or a zombie, or I could dress up like Meredith Vieira,” Hoffman says, referring to the game’s female host.
“They asked if I would really do that, and I said, ‘why not?’ Next thing I know, they called and said they’d get me a dress and a wig, and that all I’d need to bring was the size 13W black pumps—not the easiest size to find!”
The sight of Hoffman appearing on screen, bedecked in a blonde wig, makeup, a pink dress and looming over Vieira in his two-inch heels, had friends and family laughing and applauding.
For the next 15 minutes, the crowd watched as Hoffman, a.k.a. “Scarideth,” easily answered some questions and was stumped by others. Only he and Denise knew the outcome of the show, and they weren’t revealing whether he had won the grand prize, or no prize at all.
“I was as nervous watching it as I was when I was at the taping in New York, even though I knew what was going to happen,” says Denise Hoffman.
As Jason’s winnings mounted, the questions become harder. With his purse totaling $53,500 and only four more questions to reach the million dollars, Hoffman had depleted his opportunities for extra help with answers. The question that eventually stopped him was a tough one:
“Though it sounds like an event for bald men hoping to achieve their dreams, regaining is actually a what?”
The answers Hoffman had to choose from were a cooking method, a folk dance, an outdoor sport or a chess move. He narrowed it down to folk dance or outdoor sport and chose folk dance. Hoffman should have chosen outdoor sport.
“You just never know what they’re going to ask, and I had no idea what that answer was,” Hoffman says. “Really, I never even expected to get as far as I did.”
While he ended up losing some of his accumulated prize money, Hoffman still left the show with $25,000.
“It was an amazing opportunity and a wonderful experience then, and has been great today, bringing the community together for something fun,” says Hoffman.
by Laine M. Rutherford